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Transsiberian (2008)

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A Transsiberian train journey from China to Moscow becomes a thrilling chase of deception and murder when an American couple encounters a mysterious pair of fellow travelers.


Brad Anderson
2 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Woody Harrelson ... Roy
Emily Mortimer ... Jessie
Ben Kingsley ... Grinko
Kate Mara ... Abby
Eduardo Noriega ... Carlos Ximénez
Thomas Kretschmann ... Kolzak
Etienne Chicot ... Frenchman
Mac McDonald ... Minister
Colin Stinton ... Embassy Official
Perlis Vaisieta Perlis Vaisieta ... Manager Hotel Pushkin
Mindaugas Papinigis ... Young Detective
Mindaugas Capas ... Military Officer
Sonata Visockaite Sonata Visockaite ... Female Train Attendant #1
Larisa Kalpokaite Larisa Kalpokaite ... Female Train Attendant #2
Valentinas Krulikovskis Valentinas Krulikovskis ... Young Waiter


Americans abroad. Roy and Jessie finished a volunteer stint in China. He loves trains, so they go home via the Trans-Siberia Express. There are strains in the relationship, including her past. They meet Carlos, a Spaniard, traveling with Abby, a young American. Carlos keeps close to Jessie, and when Roy is left behind and waits a day for the next train so he can catch up, Jessie and Carlos take a trip into the dead of winter to photograph a ruined church. Carlos may be running drugs, so, later, when Roy catches up and introduces Jessie to his new pal, an English speaking Russian narcotics detective, he's the last person Jessie wants to see. Will the Siberian desolation be their undoing? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


You can't escape your lies. See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some violence, including torture and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »



UK | Germany | Spain | Lithuania


English | Russian | Spanish | Mandarin | French

Release Date:

5 September 2008 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Expresso Transiberiano See more »

Filming Locations:

China See more »


Box Office


$15,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$34,615, 20 July 2008

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital EX (as Dolby Digital Surround EX)



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


On creating the character of Roy, Woody Harrelson has said in interviews that it's largely based on an autistic version of his character of Woody from Cheers (1982). "I kind of thought, what if he were 'Woody,' but a version of Woody that's really into trains?" Harrelson told EW. See more »


They show a wolf at the church scene. Carlos would have been eaten by wolves after he was left dead in the woods. See more »


Jessie: Kill off all my demons, Roy, and my angels might die, too.
See more »

Alternate Versions

9 secs of cuts to shots of a knife being pressed into a leg wound were removed from the UK DVD release in order to achieve a 15 classification. Cuts were made in accordance with BBFC Guidelines and policy. An uncut 18 was available. See more »


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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

A thrilless thriller...
24 August 2008 | by ftylSee all my reviews

Brad Anderson is one of those directors who everyone thinks they like until they look him up. Since getting attention with his creepy (but unsatisfying) Session 9 in 2001 his only feature of note was 2004's The Machinist - a movie which will always remain more famous for the extraordinary physical transformation of its star (Christian Bale) than its effectiveness as a creepy thriller. This is partly because Bale's emaciated form was genuinely mesmerising but mostly because the movie just isn't very good. So, after a few years directing TV episodes, Anderson had something to prove with his latest - Transsiberian.

I've never really thought of Emily Mortimer as a leading lady. She's always seemed either hopelessly insipid or appears to be battling some unrecognisable accent and a cold at the same time. It may come as a surprise then to learn that she is one of the best things about Transsiberian but unfortunately that statement comes with a number of disappointing caveats. In the film Mortimer and a mis-cast, toupee sporting Woody Harrelson play a husband and wife heading home to the US after completing charity work in China. In a decision which screams 'bad choice' to the ever watchful audience, they forgo a simple flight home in favour of the famous 8000 km rail journey through the snowlocked Russian wastes. Hence the title of the film.

What results is billed as a twisty action thriller, with multilayered secrets and lies and the familiar device of a claustrophobic location surrounded by scenic wilderness. This may not sound particularly original but, done well, it could amount to an enjoyable few hours of escapism. And, in fairness to the film, it starts well – meandering slowly through the mystery laden landscape of character development, planting seeds of murky histories and maintaining a convincing sense of unease and displacement – 2 American tourists in the time warp of undeveloped Russia. Events occur in a fashion that makes sense, uncomfortable situations get steadily worse and, around the time Ben Kingsley shows up as a Russian detective, everything seems on a wonderfully dramatic collision course with the revelations of the final act.

But then the 'twists' begin. Not twists in the normal thriller sense of the word but closer to the M Night Shyamalan meaning ie: twists that spoil a perfectly watchable film. The final act of Transsiberian dispels any sense of tension and unease by blowing the films internal logic to smithereens. I'm not suggesting for a second that the follies here are on the level of the denouement of Signs (or the entirety of Lady in the Water), but they do manage to bring the films momentum to a halt. Both The Machinist and Session 9 had problems with their endings, Anderson seems to believe that if everything doesn't reach an overedited fever pitch he isn't doing his job correctly. This is a shame as the deliberate but inexorable pacing of the plot was one of the films strong points.

Ultimately, Transsiberian is a missed opportunity. Some good performances and impressive cinematography are not enough to smooth over the eccentricities of the final act. It cannot maintain the tension well enough to be a thriller but is too mild to fall into the category of suspense/horror. If it is a drama about the fate of foreigners abroad then why does it descend into near Outer Limits territory towards the ending? Brad Anderson may well have potential as a talented filmmaker but so long as he continues to make films which are only halfway effective he will remain in that halfway obscure list of directors-you-have-to-look-up-on-IMDb.

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